A new study has revealed that around 240 koalas live in the coastal part of the shire from west Byron to Brunswick Heads in an ever-increasingly fragmented habitat that can affect the iconic marsupial’s survival.
The study shows koala numbers were ‘extremely’ low north of the Brunswick River, where more people live in Ocean Shores and the surrounding urban area.
The Byron Shire Council study found out how many koalas there are and where they live and its data will be presented to the community next Wednesday 4 April.
The Byron Coast Koala Habitat Study surveys koalas across the coastal strip of the shire in an area of around 13,800 hectares and is the first stage of developing a comprehensive Koala Plan of Management.
The study, which includes analysis of 1,471 koala sightings plus a comprehensive field survey, estimated that 240 koalas lived in areas from west Byron to Brunswick Heads.
Council’s natural environment team leader Angus Underwood said that although the study showed koalas were currently more widespread across the shire than in the past, their habitat was now highly fragmented, which affected their survival rate.
‘This has resulted in isolation of populations which can negatively impact on their long-term survival,’ Mr Underwood said.
He said koala numbers north of the Brunswick River were ‘extremely low’.
Mr Underwood said knowing how koalas use the landscape as well as the condition of their habitat was vital for biodiversity planning and land management to support koala colonies.
Ecologists from Biolink consultants will discuss the results of the study and koala conservation at the upcoming free seminar from 6pm to 8pm at council’s Mullumbimby chambers.
For more info call Mr Underwood on 6626 7324.
Meanwhile, the managers of Mullumbimby’s new Tallowood housing estate are preparing a plan to protect and enhance koala habitat there after it was found koalas used a path in a small patch of forest on the estate’s edge.
Spokesman for the estate’s management collective, Christopher Dean, said the finding of koala skats there prompted them to plan the staged estate to be more koala friendly.
The new plans involve covenants to make sure households keep their dogs in a fenced area and planting koala food trees.